Nitish reaffirms educating women is more effective means to check population growth than law

PATNA: Notwithstanding the Centre categorically saying in Parliament that no enumeration other than that for the SCs and STs will be done, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Saturday reaffirmed demand for a caste-based census in the country and said the exercise will help in planning welfare schemes also for the poor other than the Dalits.

Kumar said the Bihar Assembly has passed unanimous resolutions twice in 2019 and 2020 favouring caste-based census and urged the union government to “must think about it.”

The JD(U) de facto leader said that though caste census began in 2010 and a report came in 2013 but it was never released.

“The caste based census should be done at least once. It will be easy for the government to identify poor other than the Dalits and help formulate schemes for their welfare”, Kumar told journalists on the sidelines of handing over 350 ambulances to beneficiaries under the Mukhyamantri Gram Parivahan Yojana (MGPY) here.

His remarks came days after the Union government informed the Parliament that the centre will not enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs in census.

While replying to a question in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Union Minister of state for Home Nityanand Rai said, “The government has decided as a matter of policy not to enumerate caste-wise population other than SCs and STs in census.

According to the provisions of the Constitution, the seats are reserved for SCs and STs in Lok Sabha and in the assemblies in proportion, as nearly as may be, to their population.

In census, the castes and tribes which are specifically notified as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as per the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order 1950 and the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950 (as amended from time to time) are enumerated”.

“We have already passed resolutions in the assembly favouring a caste-based census in 2019 and 2020. We also sent it to the central government. We have been raising this issue since 1990. The caste-based census must be done at least once for the development and welfare of people belonging to other than SCs and STs. The central government must consider it,” Kumar said.

Notably, caste-based census has been a demand, raised time to time, by most of the OBC politicians in Bihar who owe their rise to the churning of the 1990s that followed implementation of the Mandal Commission recommendations.

Not surprisingly, arch rivals like Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad, who heads the Rashtriya Janata Dal, are also on the same page on the issue.

The census on caste has not be done in India after the last one in 1931.

In reply to a question on alleged phone-tapping of prominent personalities in the country using Israeli Pegasus spyware, he said “I have already stated that this is wrong. I have always maintained that there are advantages and disadvantages of the newer technology”.

To a question on illegal sand mining and the alleged nexus between public servants and sand mafias in the state, Kumar said, “Strict action will be taken against the erring government officials.

State Police and the concerned departments have already initiated inquiry against the suspected government officials.

“All District Magistrates and Superintendent of Police have been given strict instructions to keep a proper vigil in their respective districts”.

Around 20 government officials, including some SPs, were recently transferred for their alleged nexus with sand mafias in the state.

Asked for his reaction over the central government’s stand that ‘no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by States/UTs’ during the second wave of COVID-19, the Bihar chief minister said, “We took all possible measures to meet the requirement of medical oxygen for critically ill patients in the government as well as private COVID designated hospitals during the second wave of Covid-19 in the state.

“Our government hospitals are much prepared now. Our hospitals in the state are fully prepared for the possible third wave. Oxygen generation plants are being installed at all district hospitals in the state”.

Meanwhile, while handing over 350 ambulances to beneficiaries under the MGPY scheme, Kumar flagged off 50 new CNG buses that will ply on Patna roads.